Once more, oh Lord, we ask for the miracle of the opening of the ear, the inner ear; the opening of the inner eye, that by the Spirit of the Living God we may hear and see what is impossible for us to hear and see but for Thy supernatural work. Lord, do that, we pray, for Thy glory, in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.
We are occupied with what the apostle Paul in the end of his letter to the Galatians referred to as “the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. In the opening and introductory time we just mentioned that in every book of the New Testament the Cross is to be found; in either a definite and positive placement, or it is to be found by implication in what is written. That is, everywhere in the New Testament the Cross in some way is kept in view. And then we went on to break that up and in the letter to the Romans last night we were seeing the all-inclusiveness of the Cross; how in that letter the Cross is seen as touching every dimension, every realm, every sphere, every aspect of life. It’s all gathered into that letter. The Cross is seen to be central to it all. Now, after the all-inclusiveness, we begin to break that down by looking at some of these letters as far as we are able to get this week and that will not be very far. And this evening we come to the first letter to the Corinthians.
The Cross in the first letter to the Corinthians... and it is here in what I am going to call “the Cross and the two humanities”. You need not be worried for the moment about the title, you’ll understand before we’re through, I think. But let us just be reminded how definite the Cross is in this letter, right at its early part in chapter 1 and verse 17 and verse 18.
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made void. For the word of the Cross is to them that are perishing foolishness; but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God.”
Unto us who are being saved the Cross is the power of God. In verse 23, “But we preach Christ crucified.” Chapter two, verse two: “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” See how soon the apostle is on the basic matter of the whole letter!
I want, for a later purpose, just to add to those passages the fragment known well to you, from the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 4 verses 12 and 13, beginning with a conjunction of very real significance, at which we will look or to which we will refer later: “for”. It is a continuation of something. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joint and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in His sight.” For the moment just know it: the thought of the heart. Have you ever thought with your heart? Not the common way is it, in speaking about thinking? We’re supposed to think with our heads, “the thoughts and intents of our hearts...” I’ll just leave that for the time being.
Now to the message. And in order to really understand and to appreciate the place of the Cross in this first letter to the Corinthians it is important - indeed it is essential - that we know the situation to which the letter was addressed. So, with the briefest of introductory words, let me remind you that the apostle Paul was in Corinth for two whole years and what we know of him, about his visits and his ministry, lead us to the very certain conclusion that he wasted no time during those two years. He did have a habit of preaching all night, and one young man at any rate knew something about that!
For two whole years the apostle was there in Corinth and we may conclude that for hours on hours, every day, he was ministering. And then he went away and he was away from Corinth for four or five years. During this time a very terrible deterioration in the situation, the spiritual situation, set in and rumors of it reached the ears of the apostle, brought by the members of the household of Chloe; evidently, I think, the servants in that household who visited the apostle and brought the report of this sad and tragic spiritual deterioration. Apollos was dispatched and he went to Corinth to investigate and returned to the apostle with the news that it was all too true. The situation was indeed very bad and the apostle sat down to write letters. He probably wrote three letters, one possibly lost. Two we have. And in the first letter, which we are now considering, the situation is uncovered, the tragedy is exposed. We have this that is perhaps the most terrible of all the New Testament documents as to spiritual declension.
I pause there for the moment, not rushing on, to once more indicate that it is not the amount of teaching that you have that guarantees your spiritual growth. You and I would agree that if the apostle Paul, and what we know of him, were with us for two whole years every day pouring himself out, as he said in other connections and other times, making sure that they received the whole counsel of God... If the apostle Paul had two years with us, well that would settle the whole matter of our spiritual growth, and measure, our going on. Not necessarily. We are very, very little things compared with Paul and here we are having ministry day after day, three times a day, and it is no guarantee of anything unless we learn the lesson that the apostle tried to teach in this letter, this first letter by which such a terrible, almost unthinkable result would ensue from his ministry.
So he wrote the first letter... and this letter does disclose a lot of terrible things. You know what it contains about behaviour of these Christians at Corinth, going to law before the world and the ungodly against one another. I’m not going to stay with all the details but the moral decline was such a low, low level, almost unthinkable like the very lowest level of incest; a moral level. Divisions, there are divisions among them, "there are divisions among you".
Well, evidently some at Corinth were exercised about the situation and they had sent to the apostle eleven questions for him to answer. I’ll leave that to you, they’re answered in this letter: eleven questions. But the point, oh let it come home to us, it’s going to hurt us, it really is going to hurt us. It’s going to pierce us if we listen and take heed. The Spirit is going to be like the two edged sword. Listen then: after all that ministering of such a man pouring out his heart perhaps night and day with tears, because the Lord had said to him when he arrived in Corinth, “I have much people in this city” I have! Now after all of that, out of the heart of this church, there comes this questionnaire. Eleven questions on not very profound matters, indeed, rather staple matters some of them. You would think “Oh, surely they’ve got past that!” But the point is: indications indicated an almost utter lack of inward spiritual perception, judgment, understanding. A lot of mental questions, perhaps on practical matters, but questions...
I dare not say what I’m almost inclined to say, you know we can just be full of mental questions indicating how little we have inwardly of divine understanding. Well, by the way, that’s how it is here. It’s a bad situation isn’t it? On almost every aspect of life and you would hardly think of a Christian life, because there was a time when first handling this letter I said “Well, are these people born again people at all? Is it possible that such people should be Christians?” That’s it, that’s the position to which the apostle addressed himself and note: right at the outset of his addressing himself to the situation, he introduces in this three-fold way with such precision: the Cross. “I determined, I made up my mind, I resolved to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Now you’ve got onto the line you see there. These people were not on the line of the Cross apparently and that was the reason for this situation. That explains everything. They were on another line. That is what we’re going to come to presently. They were on another line and it was the line of this world brought within the area here of Christian things; always a most dangerous thing with most terrible results. Of course you would think that to be addressed like this would have no application, but wait a moment please. I’m not saying that in this congregation or in this company these things are being perpetrated: immorality of the grossest type, and form, and other such things, of a moral kind. I don’t know about divisions... Don’t know about divisions, depends on what you mean. You see, after all, divisions are in the spirit before they are on the outside. However, leave it for the moment.
It may not be and it may yet be that some of these things are true. Whether all or few, they represent a position, a situation, which is a denial of the Cross and which will explain Corinthian position which is, Paul calls it, a position of carnality which means: “Why, you haven’t grown at all! I could not speak to you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal! Ye are yet babes!” Babes? After two years of his ministry like that and being left for another four or five years to work it out? Yes, all that... still babes. Still babes! Fed you with milk, not with meat, you're not, they’re not yet able. What a terrible position!
Now I say again, whether that be wholly or only partly the situation with us, any of us, we’re in the presence of something that is going to be our deliverance from any such course or situation sooner or later. That is why I stressed that little fragment, “we who are being saved”. The Cross for those who are being saved; got that? Well now, this whole letter just is built up upon two words, two words which represent two different humanities, two contrary kinds of people who can be in Christianity and who can be Christians. I’m not talking now about saved and unsaved; I'm talking about we who are in the course of being saved, we've got inside, we’re on the road. And even so, if this letter means anything, even so, after we have come in and are the Lord’s on this mysterious ground... we make out by the apostle’s beginning of the letter, so kind and generous he is: unto the saints which are at Corinth.
Well I won’t stop with that, we’ve got a wrong idea of what a saint is. Two or three weeks ago I came across something which I thought was very good on this matter of sainthood. A mother took her little girl to a church building with stained glass windows and there were figures in the windows, the stained glass windows. The little girl looked at these and said to her mother, “Mother, who are those people?” The mother said, “Oh, they are the saints.” The little girl put that in her mind and went away. Thereto afterwards the mother took the little girl to the home of a dear old child of God and had a wonderful time with this old believer. And when they came away the mother said to the girl: “She’s a real saint”. Stained glass windows... and saints... how can these both be saints? She thought and thought and she said “Oh, I know! I know now what a saint is! A saint is one who lets the light through!” A saint is one who lets the light through.
Well I don’t know how much these Corinthians were letting the light through but Paul said they were saints, and the point is they were on the inside of the Christian community. And on the inside you can have these two humanities represented by these two words which I’m going to give you (keep you in suspense for a minute or two) but I’m wanting to lay a very sure foundation for what I’m saying. I’m not just giving you doctrine and truth and theory. I’m here to get right down to the roots of the Christian life. That is what we all want isn’t it? We want reality. All right.
These two words then that constitute this whole letter are the basis upon which everything that follows in the New Testament rests. Until that is settled which is represented by these two words, you can’t go into second Corinthians for that is a big advance upon the first. You cannot proceed to Galatians, we’re still moving on. You cannot go into Ephesians or Philippians and Colossians with all that they represent of the mind, the thought of God for us. We cannot go on to any of them until this is settled.
And herein I see the sovereign providence of God by the Holy Spirit putting this as the first practical application of the Cross in the Christian life. For I say upon this, this, rests everything that follows, right to the end. And this is distinction represented by the two words; it explains the very incarnation itself. It explains the baptism of the Lord Jesus. It explains the anointing of the Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit. It explains the battle into which the Lord Jesus was precipitated with satan and his kingdom. It explains the very Cross itself, including the resurrection. It explains the advent of the Holy Spirit, the very coming of the Holy Spirit and it explains the training under the Holy Spirit’s government of the life of the Christian. That’s a few things isn’t it, fundamental to the Christian life, you got them all? All those things are explained by the two words that I am going to remind you of and if I added one other thing to all those that I have mentioned, I would add the building of the church because that comes here doesn’t it, in chapter three, “other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, let every man take heed how he build thereon”. It's the building of the church (and it’s the building of the Christian life) and there are two possible issues, two possible issues connected with that building. It depends on what you put on it; on the foundations... Wood, hay, stubble, going up in flames and smoke and you being saved yet as by fire and all your life’s work gone up in smoke. That’s a terrible prospect and the apostle’s saying that’s possible for you Corinthians. Or on the other side, gold, silver, precious stones which I’m not going to explain, as symbols, but these which will abide, and secure not just being saved and creeping into heaven (we have a way of saying in England I don’t know whether you say it, by the very skin of your teeth, just getting in) or having an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom. These are the issues with this basic distinction represented by these two words. Are you ready now for them?
They’re here, of course if you were reading your Greek New Testament you would be more impressed than with the English translations. The Greek words are simply “psuche” or “psuchikos” - soul or soulish. The other word: “pneuma” or “pnuematikos” - spirit or spiritual.
Soul or Spirit
Now, in our translation that Greek word “psuche” or “psuchikos” is translated “natural”. But what we’ve lost in that translation! Natural... the natural man... that’s poor isn’t it? The natural man. Ah no, this is a species of humanity, this is a kind of person, or race; a soulical humanity. This isn’t a very far cry, it’s only the cry of a change of a letter from "psuche" to "psychic". Getting clearer now? A phsychical, soulical humanity - or in contrast, the contrast of a different species of being, of spirit. A people of spirit, not just and only of soul. I say the whole letter is built upon that contrast, that distinction and that helps us right into this letter doesn’t it?
Why all this situation in Corinth? Why this declension, this spiritual decline, why? This state of things... why these quarrels and contentions and schisms and divisions and this constant expression of the ego? “I am of Paul! I am of Apollos! I am of Israel...” I! For every one of you professes “I”, every one of you says “I”! That’s a type of humanity. It's the humanity of Selfness, of the ego, of the assertion of man’s soul, and you know what the assertion of the soul is or what the soul is, look again. In this letter you’ve got it so clearly defined. They’re craving for worldly wisdom. We know all that the apostle has to say right at the beginning of the letter about the wisdom of this world.
The wisdom of this world... why talk to these people so much about the wisdom of this world? Oh, because they’re very interested in the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world (philosophy if you like but that’s too technical a term) natural, soulical wisdom... the wisdom of the soul which is just the intellectual realm to begin with, intellectual Christianity. It covers a lot of ground, a lot of things. But just this, this projecting of the mind into things with its thousand and one, more than eleven questions; curiosity and interest you know, and playing with Scripture in a mental way... going out in the natural mind into the realm of the things of God. And the apostles had something to say about that. The intellectual side of the soul, an intellectual Christianity, a mental thing after all. After all, interest in Christian things, in Christian truth, in the Bible; all has to do with Christianity, an interest that is merely mental interest. Not only that, but you go from the intellectual and you find yourself immediately in the next sentence in another aspect of the soul, that is: the desire for power.
The Desire for Power
Ah, look at the world today and you’ll see what that means. The desire, it’s a lust for power, power politics, and power this, and power that... to have power in your hands, to wield power in this world and over lives, coming from yourself. The assertion of yourself to get it, and don’t tell me that any one of us here, any one of us, is not infected by that naturally. You will come to me, someone will come to me and in a very humble and lowly voice tell me what a poor creature he is or she is and all along that line and that tone and I am listening more inwardly and what am I really hearing? I’m hearing the murmuring of an inferiority complex and an inferiority complex is one of the most evident signs of the desire for power.
It is indeed an advanced Christian who is saved from this desire of being somebody and something, or let me put it the other way: of not being ignored. Not being ignored... Oh, it's a testing thing isn’t it? This being ignored, taken no notice of, walked over, walked past... "He didn’t even look at me!" Ah, here’s your desire for power, as subtle and deep as the devil himself.
There’s a false humility you know, which is the essence of pride. “I thank thee Lord that I am not as other men...” that’s the voice of the hypocrite, of the Pharisee. This desire for power... and the apostle puts his finger upon this in this letter: power, the power of God and the power of men are in two different realms altogether and the power of God is seen mainly in the weakness of the Cross. The Cross, because it is the symbol of human weakness, is the symbol of heaven’s mightiest power. But how can men look at it like that?
But leave that a minute, coming back, and another aspect of the soul, the soulish humanity in the emotions. Now, you’ve got to be very patient with me... you really have, I’m going to get it! In the emotion, and that can be so much of the soul in the physical realm, for it says these people more than any others were blessed with spiritual gifts, tongues, what-not - charismata, the gifts. Oh, what is this? What is this? A people like this, a people like this? Boasting of their gifts, glorying in their spiritual gifts, in these powers? No doubt so much in that realm that often they would obsess you with it and challenge you with it and put you really on the spot over it; that if you haven’t got these gifts, well, you’re written off as a Christian! The emotional aspects of this, and let me say it, and this is where I’ll get myself into trouble, but I’ve got to face it, to say it. Spiritual gifts of this type are no necessary proof of spiritual character and spiritual paradigm. You may have them all and be an immature child if this letter means anything. They are not proof of spiritual maturity at all because the apostles had them before Calvary! They healed the sick, cast out devils and the rest of it with divine powers before ever the tragedy of their break down, the crucifixion, and their being scattered all abroad and forsaking Him and leaving Him, every one. They had had the gifts. No guarantee of places. You understand? It can be just so much soulical emotion and interest and fascination.
I’m not saying that there are no true spiritual gifts, but you see where we are, this is all on a natural basis after all, in the Christian world, the Christian life. It can all be, all be, intellectual, volitional, emotional. All this and yet such a poor spiritual condition. And I get it out of the Word of God, I wouldn’t dare to say these things like that, but here it is.
This is a humanity on the other side over against that, with such emphasis, such emphasis the apostle places, “he that is spiritual”. The Corinthians would have so much speaking, so much given to them of divine truth. To them he said “He that is spiritual discerneth all things. He is able to weigh things up and come to right heavenly conclusions about things. He has spiritual judgment, spiritual perception. But this soulical man, (the natural man is our translation) cannot! Cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. He cannot know them. It’s only the spiritual man who knows, who sees, who understands.”
Is it hard to receive dear friends? I don’t think I’d be altogether wrong in saying there’s a great deal of this kind of thing amongst Christians. Christians in the world today, if not here, like this: the inconsistencies, the contradictions, the limitation of spiritual life and understanding. You can be evangelical, in America you call it "fundamentalist", you can be that and not be a spiritual person. I have met many who would lay down their lives for the fundamentals of the faith, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Scriptures and what-not and I can’t have any fellowship with them on the things of the Lord. There’s a bigger gap, it seems to me, between an evangelical Christian and a spiritual person as there is between an unsaved and a saved one. You know what I mean. A really spiritual person... well! Things flow and you can talk and get on with the things of the Lord in the most blessed, living fellowship... it just comes out; a spiritual person! And with an evangelical Christian so often if you begin to talk about the Lord they raise their eyebrows and open their mouths as though you’re talking in another language. That is not untruth, that is truth, that is truth. There are many, even in what is called "the ministry", leaders of God’s people, with whom you cannot have real spiritual fellowship on the things of God. You can only just go so far. They’re interested in Christianity, they’re interested in foreign missions, they’re interested in things, but when you want to get down and really have spiritual food to your heart’s gratification, you cannot get it. They’re evangelical right enough, but they’re not spiritual.
It’s so difficult to get this over. I think that you have enough understanding to appreciate what I’m saying. And this is the thing. I put all those things, you see, on this: that the explanation of the incarnation is that God brought into this world a different humanity from ours, another humanity of heaven and not of earth, of God and not of man. Another humanity which this world could not understand or follow or appreciate. The words “...it knew Him not” - it knew Him not! The incarnation was the introduction of a different humanity. A matter to dwell upon for many hours. Yes, the incarnation. The baptism. The baptism is the setting aside in its entirety of one kind of humanity and the bringing in of another. Paul explains it, the later New Testament explains everything. Why, why bury something that’s good? Don’t do that! No, it’s rejected. It’s a humanity that is discarded, rejected by God. Unacceptable. Its only place is burial and the bringing in of another humanity, that’s a baptism.
The anointing... there’s all the difference of two races between an anointed and an unanointed person; wants a lot of dwelling upon doesn’t it? What is the anointing? Well in a word, it is God committing Himself. Committing Himself. And to what does God commit Himself? The Anointed. Ah, the battle, you see immediately the battle set in after the baptism and the Anointed and it was on one issue: to try to get this Man who had taken heavenly ground through death, burial and resurrection under the government of the Holy Spirit, to get this Man to go back onto natural ground. You read of it, study it again; get Him off His heavenly ground. What a battle all through life that is with us! “Come down” is ever the word of the tempter, “Come down from the Cross, we will believe! Come down from that position you have taken. Come down, it’s to your advantage to come down; you’ll gain everything if only you’ll come down...” And how intense is that battle sometimes isn’t it? When you’re up against it, when you’re on the Cross in weakness, in suffering, in agony... and although the Cross is meaning that to you, the battle does rage to take easier ground, to sacrifice something, to compromise somewhere, to get out of the “offense of the Cross” as Paul calls it.
The battle of two humanities. What kind of person are you going to be? Of heaven or of earth? See the battle? The Cross gathers all this together. And again the Holy Spirit... why the Holy Spirit? Why the Holy Spirit? What’s your answer to that? It’s all been put into little categories, the Holy Spirit this and that; if you don’t do this you haven’t got the Holy Spirit, you don’t know anything about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Well why the Holy Spirit? To make a different humanity of you; a spiritual person! A spiritual person by the Spirit of God. It may include many things but it’s just that: the difference in what we are by the Holy Spirit.
And then I spoke about the training... what is the meaning of our training because as soon as we really get into the hands of the Spirit (don’t be discouraged in what I am going to say, young Christians who are here) you’re in for it. You’re in for it! You’re in for real difficulty, real training. You’re going to get into a hard school for your natural life, for your soul life. Ah yes, it’s going to be real training... what the writer calls "chastening", child training, discipline. Oh, what a hard school this is for the natural man when our soul life is being starved. The mental side: "I cannot understand, I cannot see why, I cannot explain the dealings of God. My whole mental ability is thwarted and frustrated and I just don’t know what to think or to make of it." Yes, the soul is being starved. It’s going to come through only, only on the ground of your spiritual life. That is what the Lord is after, to get us away from living on things to living on Himself alone.
The starvation of our emotions... my word, how we go into the deep freeze sometimes spiritually. You know? Am I saying wrong? I don’t want to cause anyone to stumble, but there can be times, there can be times in the life of a child of God when it seems the Lord has departed from him; when you cry like Job, “Oh, that I might know where to find Him... I go on the right hand and He is not there and on the left and He is not there!” Where is the Lord? Today? Here? True... why? Well this is a part of the training of the new man, the different kind of man. The emotions are sometimes frozen. All your lovely feelings have gone and you agree with the man who wrote, God forbid that we should invite it, but he did write: “Where is, where is the preciousness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing dew of Jesus and His Word? Return O Holy God, return...” Have you felt like saying that sometimes? Oh, it’s the normal spiritual life!
There’s nothing abnormal about that, nothing really in the design of things strange about that. This is normal for anybody who is going right on with the Lord, you will have these times when the whole of you is in great distress and the only way out and through will be what you know of the Lord in your spirit; how much spiritual Life you have, how much spiritual measure you have, that He is working in us, training by setting aside this natural, soulical, psychical life and building up the spiritual man. Those are the two words representing two humanities and now you see the Cross is introduced.
This is not my philosophy, my construction; this is just what is here in this letter. I beg to repeat: the letter is built and constructed upon these two words, two different humanities - the soul humanity and the spiritual man.
The Natural-man Humanity and the Christ-man Humanity
The apostle begins with a distinction, presses it home all the way through as the ground of challenge, instruction, and counsel and advice and warning and concludes it, the whole thing, in the most glorious way! In effect he says by this letter: you have to begin by becoming a spiritual person, your spirit born anew from above, the whole spirit in charge of you making you at the beginning a spiritual person and right through growingly a spiritual person, and then what? Chapter fifteen, “First that which is natural...” oh, here we are there again, that which is soulical. “Afterward that which is spiritual...” and where does that land us? The spiritual body. The spirit is sown, that living spirit is sown, that which has been the work of the Holy Spirit in us, which we are really and truly in the innermost part of our being, what is called “the inner man”.
The inner man, that all developed as a seed and given a spiritual body, a spiritual body. Ah, that raises questions, don’t worry. I’m so often asked: do you think people will know each other in the life afterwards? Yes and no. If you think that you’re going to know me by seeing these features, no, no not this body, not this body but a body given of a different order: a spiritual body. I can’t define the spiritual body, I’ve no time for it for one thing, if I were able. Flesh and blood cannot, says the apostle, inherit the kingdom. No, but He gives to each seed a body as it pleases Him, oh thank God! It’s going to be in a body that after all pleases the Lord! Oh, what troubles in this body!
You see what the apostle was saying in the course of this letter and more in the next letter: Our outward man perisheth but our inward man is renewed day by day, our inward man. And as we groan waiting to be clothed upon with our body which is from above, every seed a body given, and then in that spiritual body (which, I suppose, is like the body of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection, that’s all I can say, or the body of the Lord Jesus on the mount of transfiguration is that it?) a different type, a different humanity - it will be a humanity! You’ll know one another as human beings not as angels. Don’t sing again “Oh to be an angel,” oh that’s an inferior thing to what you're called to! Oh no, we are not going to sprout wings, this is something far, far higher; a spiritual man with a spiritual body. I think we may be the only lot, I don’t know. In our time we’ve lived now to see men going into space, getting out of their spacecraft and floating in air, with the law of gravity absolutely nullified. But for them there has to be a special equipment, artificial equipment to live in that realm. Well, we will need no artificial equipment when we are caught up to meet Him in the air and to live in that rarified atmosphere of heaven. It will be quite natural, you see what I mean?
Well, this is the difference in the humanity, it requires a different type of person to do that doesn’t it? A different species. And to finish... yet again it’s the Cross that effects this. Right at the heart of the two humanities, to bring one progressively down, less and less. That’s what’s happening. How far we’ve got in this, how you say, “Oh, I’m beginning to feel myself less than nothing, the poorest, most inferior kind of being.” Have you, and this is not exaggerating, have you groveled in the dust of the consciousness of your own worthlessness? That’s alright, that's quite alright, provided, mind, that there’s a corresponding spiritual growth of another species, another order, another kind. The Cross is working on the one side, as ever it was meant to do, to bring one kind of man to an end and on the other side to bring in a new kind of man. The Cross does it.
Now, I must safeguard all that I’ve been saying by this: don’t anyone go away saying it is wrong to have a soul, wrong to have a mind, wrong to have feelings, wrong to have a will; if that’s all the soul then I must kill my soul. That difficult principle... the governing principle, as you know, of Buddhism is the final annihilation of desire. Oh God save us! No, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a soul. What I’m saying is: the soul is not to be the governmental thing; the spiritual is to be the governmental thing, to control even our soul, to say to our reasoning to say “Now look here, you may be thinking altogether differently from the way in which the Lord thinks, let’s take this to the Lord and get His mind about it.” Our mind, our reasoning will say: yes, this is right, this is good, this is it. But wait a minute. Let us subject this to the Holy Spirit and we may discover that our thinking was all out of line with the Lord. Oh, we may have strong feelings and emotions... now let’s get hold of this, they’re not going to run away with us, control us; let’s bring this to the Lord. Is this right? All this, this emotional soul has got to be controlled by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit in our spirit. No, it’s right to have a soul, there is such a thing in the Word of God as the salvation of the soul, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul. My word don’t they need saving? They do. How then? The work of the Cross, building up the spiritual man, the spiritual life.
I think that’s good enough for tonight, enough for us to get on with isn’t it? But you see the Cross in this first letter to the Corinthians had a very, very pertinent word to say; a very far reaching issue to secure. If you’ve not been able to understand, grasp, follow anything or everything, don’t turn it aside: “Well I can’t understand all that...” No, if you are a true child of God you’re going to learn this because it’s true. It will be set right over your life and it will be the very best thing that can happen. The greatest thing is the consummation, the consummation of it all, the manifestation of the sons of God. We collect that from Romans don’t we? And bring it into Philippians, the new species, the new humanity; sons of God. I don’t know whether we’ll get to Galatians this week but that’s the issue there. So we leave it for the time being. Shall we pray?
Lord we do turn from all the words and the ideas and the thoughts, even the truths as such in themselves, and pray Lord, from our hearts: give us spiritual understanding. Oh, may we be amongst the spiritual men who discern all things and have a capacity that no natural man at his best could get it... the deep things of God revealed by the Spirit to spiritual men. Lord, teach us what’s of You and help us in this way, that we may become a different order of being from that which is of Adam. We ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.